There are a whole host of health funds which can provide you with an even bigger number of insurance products. Putting in the time and effort to find the right one may be something you only do once, but keeping in mind that you have the right to change can be crucial.
In an ideal world, you should review your health insurance at least once a year to confirm it's still the right option. However, many people will take out a policy and then never look to change it, as they may believe that the nuances of switching health funds are too difficult and time consuming to get to grips with.
However, keep in mind that as a consumer, you have the right to change private health insurance products at any time if your current arrangement no longer meets your needs.
As per the Private Health Insurance Act 2007, there are a number of rules in place which provide protection to anyone who is looking to change health insurance products within the same fund, or switch from one provider to another.
These portability rules ultimately mean that the quality of service you receive doesn't differ. For example, waiting periods don't necessarily come into play and you won't have to see them through before you can make a claim, as you would have to as a completely new customer.
Fund loyalty bonuses
Several insurers will offer bonuses and incentives to long-term customers, in efforts to retain their services. If you are thinking of switching health funds, consider how long you have been with one provider. If the answer is a number of years, you may have built a large and valuable backlog of loyalty bonuses.
Depending on the health fund, these can vary from credits which can be used to reduce your excess to increased annual limits on your extras cover. Whilst these bonuses can indeed be valuable, they are not necessarily transferable across different funds. If you want to change, it will be important to find out whether some or all of the bonuses can be carried over to your new fund.
30-day cooling off period
When you first change funds, you may be given a 30-day cooling off period at the very beginning of the policy. This ultimately means that – providing you haven't made a claim – you can cancel the new arrangement and receive a refund on any money you have paid out in that time period.
One top of those criteria, there are also a number of things to keep in mind that you will have to do across the process of switching funds:
- Make sure all of your payments on what will become your old policy are up to date.
- Obtain a Clearance Certificate which will be passed from your current fund, to your future one. This also acts as a way in which to confirm your Lifetime Health Cover status.
- Make sure your new cover starts the day after the date at which your current policy is paid up to. This ensures that there are no periods in which you have no coverage at all.
Switching health funds may seem like a laborious process. However, providing you understand some of the nuances and are happy to consult with the experts before you do so, the change can be kept simple.
Talking the decision through with an impartial and experienced broker is the best option, as you can gain an insight into what each and every health fund can offer you. Call HICA on 1300 44 22 01 and you can be guided through the whole process, whether you're looking at upgrading your cover or switching health funds entirely.